More Alabama hospitals saying 'no' to certain visitors

CULLMAN, AL (WBRC) - A growing number of hospitals around Alabama are urging people with flu-like symptoms to stay away from the hospital.

The Cullman Regional Medical Center announced Thursday new restrictions on visitors in an effort to slow down the spread of the H1N1 swine flu virus.  The hospital is now discouraging all visitors with flu-like symptoms or children under the age of 12.  It is also strongly discouraging visits to newborns, suggesting visitors use the hospital website to send electronic greetings.

"Our priority is to keep people well," said Chandra Brown, the division director of Quality and Risk Management. "We don't want people sick coming to the hospital, then getting something else while they are here."

The hospital added sanitation stations at all of its entrances where patients with flu-like symptoms may get a mask.

"We have been at this in preparation for 18 months," said Jim Weidner, Pres. and CEO.  "We know it's coming and we are prepared."

The Alabama Department of Public Health said Thursday the H1N1 vaccine has not yet arrived in Alabama, but is scheduled to be here later this month.

"I'd say 3 to 4 weeks," Sondra Nassetta, the Ala. Dept. of Public Health said. "The plan is to give to the schools at the end of the month."

Nassetta said the state should have a good supply once it arrives.  The targeted groups for H1N1 are pregnant women, health care and emergency personnel, children six months to 18-years old, and young adults 19 to 24 years old.

Administrators at Cullman Regional Medical Center are encouraging those in high risk groups to take the H1N1 vaccine and the regular flu shot.

"This is the year you need to change your mind, get over your fear of taking shots and go for it this year," Marti Smith, Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator said.